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Stimulus won't solve Wake schools budget woes

Posted May 20, 2009

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— Despite an influx of $46 million in federal stimulus funds over the next two years, the Wake County Public School System's budget situation is still dire, board members said Wednesday.

Superintendent Del Burns said the district plans to use nearly $16.5 million of the money to expand pre-kindergarten programs, put math coaches into 45 Title I schools with large numbers of students from low-income families and provide extra support to homeless students.

Year-Round Schools Generic Wake schools to get $46M from stimulus

The programs would create 97 jobs, Burns said.

More than $30 million will go toward special education in Title I schools to expand the use of technology in learning and teaching, and help support pre-kindergarten programs because of the additional costs of operating the program for special education students.

The money would also be used to help fill the projected budget shortfall.

Still, 60 percent of funding for Wake County schools comes from the state. School board members, who have anticipated a 5 percent budget cut, say it could end up being more because of lower-than-expected state revenue and cuts to the state budget.

"I just don't want citizens to get the idea that the situation is better than it is actually," school board member Lori Millberg said. "Now, it's looking worse than (5 percent). It could be as high as 10 percent."
Burns said that a 5 percent budget cut would mean about 800 educators' jobs lost. School board members have said many of the teachers whose contracts expire at the end of the year would not be asked to return.

"If the state funding doesn't come in, as we anticipated, then we're looking at an even greater number of positions we won't have next year," he said.

School leaders said they would have liked to use the federal funding to offset other expenses but that the stimulus money comes with parameters.

"We're not even really allowed to use it, instead, to save jobs," Millberg said. "We have to do something additional. That's a requirement."

"Would it have been nice if we could have just spent it on something? That would have been great," said Jennifer Lanane, president of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators. "But apparently that's not the case."

Federal funding, Lanane said, however, is not the long-term solution.

"That is not the panacea. That's not what's going to save it," she said. "We get so much from the state. They have really got o crank it up down there on Jones Street and figure it out."


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  • discowhale May 21, 2009

    "...plans to use nearly $16.5 million of the money to expand..."

    Oh I see, just like the rest of us when we fall short of money, the WCPSS will EXPAND programs. I guess just filling the gaps between current income and future outgo was too simple a solution.

    And "outgo" is what the ENTIRE school board needs to do.

  • whatusay May 21, 2009

    97 new jobs being created.....how are these 97 new salaries to be paid when the stimulus runs out? Don't take the welfare stimulus money and become dependent on the federal government. This is Obama's plan to socialize this country. Our educators and politicians can't be this stupid. Taxes will have to be raised to keep these 97 working.

  • gopack54 May 21, 2009

    Stimulus money for more glorified State babysitting. Threatening to lay off thousands of teachers ( House budget). Yet, I just looked at the Wake Co schools website and one of the first openings posted today (5/21) is for a ESL teacher. I guess that's more important than having quality math and science teachers in the classroom with an appropriate number of students.

  • time4real May 21, 2009

    "Where is the outcry!!!!!"

    Well, there's been at least 3 or 4 of us who give a rip. Most of the rest of parents, voters and the public are too ignorant to have a clue! They'll figure it out someday. When their kid's principal's do a 180 for them!

  • dixie dingo May 20, 2009

    Will someone please tell me why we are not angrier about More at Four getting over $15M? This stimulus money should be spent on real education (K-12), not wasted on creating new jobs for teachers who would not qualify to teach anything else. Why, since Easley is gone, are we trying to put more funding in his pet project? M@4 is a duplication of Smart Start. Put the money in kindergarten programs. Hire more math tutors. Anything is better than funding the political boondoggle More at Four. Where is the outcry!!!!!

  • wayne1961 May 20, 2009

    It's time, on a temporary basis, to suspend/reduce extracurricular afterschool activities such as sports and band. While I don't think it would resolve the entire shortfall, it will help. When the economy turns around, those activities could be added back.

    But it is strange that the school system only talks about eliminating positions, to try to scare the public, but never talks about eliminating programs or activities.

  • time4real May 20, 2009

    "Want to understand why we have school growth problems and the need for YR Schools?"

    We don't have a "growth" problem dude! Try again, that lie has been a LIE from the beginning! Operational & transportation costs at year round schools and empty seats are costing you, and us, more at year round schools than just about EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU EVER HAD A CLUE ABOUT! And apparently that is still the case! Wake up clueless public!

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 20, 2009

    Want to understand why we have school growth problems and the need for YR Schools? Check out this article.

    Money from the lottery is a joke. For instance, for argument's sake, let's say Wake Co gave the schools $110 Mil a year prior to the lottery. Then the lottery said we will give the schools in Wake about $30 Mil a year. Over time, the amount Wake Co gives the schools has dropped by nearly that $30 Mil amount. Now it probably didn't drop. But each year they increase the amount. It probably didn't increase for a few years by much. Which made up the difference. So yes, lottery gives to the schools. But the schools don't wind up getting much more than they would have gotten without the lottery.

  • demo7691 May 20, 2009

    Its simple if you have paid into welfare ten you can get it if you qualify or lie like a lot of people. If you dont like illegals,etc.. then put a lean on thier property savings account whatever to cover the payback. Dont just give the money out.

  • Mean Old Mom May 20, 2009

    Should we just do away with the government and let industry run the show?

    Mostly....YES! Unless you want a situation like Detroit. The auto dealers are now going to wither on the vine. Union people set themselves up to be put out of jobs for demanding way more benefits and perks than industry or government can afford. And if industry can't afford it, how on earth is the government going to???? They don't produce anything except for dependency! Schools should learn from what they see going on right now in the auto industry. They got a handout from Uncle Sam and now...they are going bankrupt!